Thursday, July 9, 2009

Settling In

Princess (left) and Daisy

"The beginning and the end reach out their hands to each other.” ~Chinese Proverb

Though I continue to grieve for my Rachmaninoff, living is about loving, and sadly, the number of animals waiting in shelters to be adopted has skyrocketed.

From the moment I learned about these Tortoiseshell sisters, I had a fateful feeling. Failing health had forced their owner to give them up just before she entered a nursing home. They had been with her since they were kittens, so it must have been heartbreaking. When I learned about them, they had been in a shelter for months. Princess, who is much smaller than Daisy, has a heart problem and is not expected to live very long, and they absolutely had to be adopted together.

Sensing a connection with them after seeing their photo, but heavy with grief, I put off visiting them. In the meantime, I sought the guidance of my trusted vet, knowing that she would never recommend my taking on another ICU case. We learned that medication would not change Princess’ prognosis, and that all anyone could do was provide a loving home to make whatever time she had left worthwhile. Daisy, however, was in perfect health.

A month after Rock’s death, I went to visit the girls. They were magical, lovely to look at and composed even with dogs barking in the next room. Princess looked and behaved like an active and normal cat. Both conveyed an odd “it is what it is” resignation. And yet, they did not seem sad. Their willingness to make the best of things even though they deserved far better made an indelible impression on me.

But was I ready? I felt certain that adopting them was in no way about replacing Rock. That was impossible anyway. The longer I thought about them in the shelter, the more I thought about bringing Princess and Daisy home.

The girls have been with me for a week now. They turn seven in September, so changing their names seemed disrespectful. Watching them play with the toys Rock had been too sick to enjoy has been bittersweet. They make me laugh and seem to understand when I cry.

Together we are learning to begin again.

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